600 food parcels delivered to Ipswich families from schools’ ‘community shelf’
Ipswich schools have delivered more than 600 food parcels to families during Covid-19 - but urgently need more funds to keep their “community shelf” project going as the crisis begins to bite.
The Raedwald Trust, which runs several special schools in the town, and Copleston High started the scheme in April when it became clear the crisis was leaving many facing unprecedented hardship.
Copleston High principal Andy Green said the pandemic has “placed a much greater strain on people financially”, with parents forced to spend more on food for their children at home - often with reduced income.
The schools decided to “redress the balance” of the “disproportionate allocation of resources in our communities” by donating surplus food to those with greater need.
The East of England Co-op, The Rope Trust and Waitrose made donations to help get the scheme started, with the parcels delivered straight to people’s doorsteps.
Yet despite handing out more than 600 packages over the course of 10 weeks, Mr Green said: “We’d like to continue this in light of the fact it doesn’t look like students are going to return to school properly for a while.
“Some families are going to be left in crisis situations.
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“If we don’t do what we can to help, the gap is never going to be bridged in terms of giving youngsters a chance to go and achieve great things.
“If you haven’t got nutrition or food inside you, how can you be expected to learn properly?”
Organisers believe the community shelf could benefit as many as 200 families.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has backed the appeal, saying: “Covid-19 has left many families facing hardship and uncertainty about what the future holds.
“The community shelf initiative set up by Copleston High School and the Raedwald Trust is a great example of how our community has responded.
“Since community shelf was set up to distribute the food people have to spare, it has made a real difference to people in Ipswich who are struggling.
“The government has taken unprecedented steps to intervene in our economy over recent months, and I’ve called for the government to go further with the extension of the free school meal voucher scheme over the summer holiday - but nothing can replace the action organised at the community level, which can often take a more personal and locally targeted approach.”
Angela Ransby, chief executive of the Raedwald Trust, said that as well as providing emergency relief, the community shelf is “really important for building connections with families, so they have trusted people they can go to as things get more challenging for them”.
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